This paper describes a system of interferometric control as applied to the smaller ruling engine of the Mount Wilson Observatory. The usual mechanism intermittently advances the grating carriage with a spacing closely approximating an integral number of fringes of green Hg198 light. A Michelson interferometer monitors this motion. The interferometer is modulated by deflecting the compensating plate electromagnetically, thus correcting for barometric pressure changes and also causing the fringe pattern to oscillate with a small amplitude at 60 cps. The oscillating fringe pattern is scanned by a phototube and is reproduced on a monitoring cathode-ray tube; any decentering of the nth fringe is detected by synchronous demodulation and is converted to a stored electrical charge. During each spacing operation, a differential correction proportional to the stored error signal is introduced into the mechanism. Corrections average about 1 centifringe (2.5 × 10−7 cm). The system is relatively simple and ensures a very high order of precision in spacing, with extremely straight grooves.
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